The Quarantine Times, Last Issue of 2020

It is December 31, 2020. Marking this “year end” is arbitrary and very little is changing as we tear off yet another calendar page. May I remind future readers that we are still in COVID times out here in just-about-to-be 2021 and very little is under control.

Yes, yes, 2020 will be forever tagged as the dumpster fire and as the start of the many archetypal icons and memes, such as banana bread, toilet paper shortages, the politicization of the wearing of face masks, a new, videoconference-centric life, etc.

However, why NOT look back on this arduous, bizarre, yet curiously transformative last 12 months? Me, I got a LOT OF SHIT DONE and I’m proud of it.

I covered January-September 2020 in a blog post of mostly words here. I’ll stick some photos and captions in this one.

But first: yes, I am proud of being productive this year. I had a lot of forward motion punctuated by squealing emergency stops. Isolation, uncertainty, and looming depression would join forces to make me feel like I wasn’t going to see another day. Yet, here was another day, and another, and another. And so I trudged on, cajoling and tricking myself out of bed, into the shower, out of the house, up to my loft to work, onto the phone (“help me!”) until I could right myself and trudge on, but a little less wobbly-like.

I AM LUCKY. Though I am physically by myself, I am not alone. I am lucky to have the solid base on which to feel all these feelings. I am employed. I have been working hard on mental and spiritual transformation, so I have tools to cope. I am not responsible for others’ lives or livelihoods. I have loving and understanding friends and family. I am lucky, and know it.

I salute everyone, whether you got jack shit done, or accomplished everything. This is a really hard and humbling time and I have been paying attention to all the lessons being taught to me. I have never appreciated who I am and what I have more than in this moment.

These photos are mostly of organizational projects, since spiritual/mental transformation is a little harder to photograph. And although I went outside a fair amount and sometimes looked cute, selfies and landscape photography have not been priorities.

January: I don’t remember January.

My cousin died in February. I miss her.

My brother (in California for our cousin’s memorial) stayed with me a few days at the end of February. He escaped just a few days ahead of lock down. He was my last houseguest, and a good one – he helped me get a lot of projects knocked out, including repainting my kitchen. I have had a lot of time to admire this kitchen.

The spouse of a friend died and I attended my first online funeral in March. March 22 was also the last time I got to hang out with my friend C, who died suddenly in May. Her existence had an unfathomable impact on my life, as well as on countless others’.

About April was the time I realized that I needed to step up self-care – not in a spa treatment way, but more in a “get a therapist” way and other mind/brain improvement ways.

I also realized my incredible need to stay busy. I hate that I have used the “gift of time” while describing my lockdown to others, but the fact that I had almost limitless hours with literally no place to go spurred me into going deep. Honestly, I will not have time like this till after retirement, and I’m super glad every effing thing in my home now has an effing place. And that I unloaded a thrift store’s worth of crap into thrift stores. (I’m realizing these photos aren’t very remarkable, especially when they’re lacking before-and-after comparisons, but OMG so many many hour hours hours of work are represented here)

Clothes closet reorg. Every other closet got the treatment, too.
Impossible to photograph, this attic space (which I refer to affectionately as the “Murder Closet”) was a nightmare, many-stepped task. It doesn’t look pretty here, but trust me, it is the prettiest thing in my house.
Just looking at that photo bin makes me exhausted all over again. I reckon I got rid of about 2/3rds of my paper history. I also gave away and sold so much childhood and otherwise memorabilia. When time is a commodity without value, eBay is worth doing. With what I made, I was able to redo my bathroom – that kind of worthwhile.
Here’s the bathroom I had redone. I didn’t have enough to redo the floors or the shower stall, but it’s better than the horror it was previously. It’s also hard to find humans willing to take on dinky projects like mine these days. I did also manage to find a handyman to replace my outdoor utility closet doors, which sounds so boring but is a major achievement.
I digitized many photo prints and slides. Here is baby Becky at UC Berkeley, sophomore year! I also had digitized many family home movies, which was my Christmas gift to family. I am burnt out on photos but digitizing the rest of that mess is an undone project as of yet.
So much memorabilia had I! I am happy I kept a lot of it. It’s been fun sharing (and occasionally shaming) loved ones with what I have found.
I traded things for things. I had a giant 25-lb sack of flour, pounds of which were bartered for produce from peoples’ trees. I also traded old shelving for a blender and a VCR, a TV for a hand mixer, and so much more.
Back in the days when I was more willing to sit in on a non-work video conference.
SO MUCH TIME ON VIDEO CONFERENCES
Without a human or animal in my house, my plants became my children. I became a much better gardener this year. I also became a better cook and baker.
And I kept things pretty tidy all year, which is has been easier than it ever was before, due to working from home and not having to jam chores in on the weekends, and also from not wearing clothes or having events or visits or trips competing with my time (time, which is worthless.)
Thank god for my beautiful home.
I maximized the shit out of every available square foot of my home, in a desperate attempt to curb cabin fever. My previously underutilized balcony got some furniture, and my loft (pictured) became my office and yoga studio. To have “somewhere else” to go for my workday (but with the always-available option to work from bed when needed) was critical. And the yoga. Holy wow. My studio’s virtual classes are a huge factor in keeping me tethered to sanity, and I do not say this lightly. This is also the venue from which I’ve participated in Zoom dance parties, one of my favorite new-reality activities.
I’ve been out of the County (or nearby) three times since February: once for a driving day trip, and twice for a few days away. It’s almost not worth going, because the return to the samey-ness is painful. Almost, but not quite. Even though I’m alone, to be alone somewhere else is nice and even nicer to see old friends at a social distance. Worth the slightly elevated risk level.
And home is good, too. I live in a coastal city with a perfect climate. I will appreciate that every day forever.

Happy new year, whatever that means.